Hunter Greene discovered Friday night what it is like to take the mound with his fastball missing action.
It was neither fun nor productive.
After throwing 39 pitches at 100 mph or faster in his previous start, the 22-year-old Cincinnati Reds rookie’s fastball against the St. Louis Cardinals Friday hovered near 96, not once nearing 100.
It forced Greene to try his change-up and slider more often and he lacked control and command.
Eight of the 18 batters he faced reached base, four via walks, and three scored, leading to another in a long line of Reds’ defeats, their 10th in a row, 4-2.
During the 10-game losing streak, the Reds have gone 89 straight innings without leading at the conclusion of a full inning. They have been outscored, 63-20, averaging two runs a game. And they had nine hits, the first time they have had more than seven hits in a game since Opening Day, 13 games ago.
The first-place Cardinals scored a run in the first, beginning with two hits on Greene’s first three pitches.
Dylan Carlson singled on the second pitch and Paul Goldschmidt singled on the first pitch. Left fielder Tommy Pham booted Goldschmidt’s hit, an error that permitted Carlson to score.
St. Louis added two runs in the fourth after Greene put the first two on base via a walk and a hit batsman. When Carlson reached on an infield hit to fill the bases, Jeff Hoffman replaced Greene and Goldschmidt singled for two runs and a 3-0 lead.
Greene’s line: 3 1/3 innings three runs, four hits, three strikeouts. . .66 pitches, none at 100 miles an hour and his earned run average climbed to 5.27 and his won-loss record dipped to 1-and-2.
Hoffman gave up a run in the fifth when once again the Cardinals put their first two hitters aboard on a walk and a hit. Lars Nootbaar, 0-for-2022, singled to right for a run and a 4-0 lead.
The Reds stranded two runners in the first and second and they were runless heading into the fifth, a stretch of 15 straight scoreless innings dating back to the four-game sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It ended in the fifth when the Reds plated a run, but it could have been much more. Aramis Garcia walked on a full count and Colin Moran singled, putting runners on second and first with no outs.
But Kyle Farmer hit into a double play, then Brandon Drury saved the inning with a run-scoring single.
Joey Votto singled to open the sixth, his first two-hit game of the season, and it knocked out Cardinals starter Steven Matz.
With one out, relief pitcher Nick Witgren walked pinch-hitter T.J. Friedl on four pitches, putting Reds on second and first with no outs.
Alejo Lopez moved the runners to third and second with a ground ball to first, but Aramis Garcia swung at the first pitch and popped it straight up, stranding two more.
The Reds displayed some fight in the ninth against Cardinals closer Giovanny Gallegos. Lopez singled and with one out Moran doubled. That put runners on third and first with one out and Kyle Farmer came to the plate representing the tying run.
Farmer grounded to short, scoring Lopez, but Brandon Drury flied to deep center to end it.
For the latest exercise in futility, the Reds were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.